Sunday, May 3, 2015

TAP(415) Happy Hour Makes One Happy

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
 

Just weeks since it’s been implemented, the daily Happy Hour at TAP(415) on the fourth floor of the downtown Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre is already as popular as can be with local businesses’ and mall employees flocking in at the end of their shift to indulge in rotational drinks and savory bites at this modern beer garden.

TAP(415) named after San Francisco’s telephone area code offers the best local beers on tap as “rotational pint” ($5) like Speakeasy Prohibition; red and white California wines rotated every 2 or 3 days ($6); and daily special cocktails ($7), like mint julep – from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.

The Happy Hour menu includes wonderful starters – $1 BBQ chips and $5 oyster shooters with less than an ounce of vodka and Bloody Mary mix with horseradish. All other bites – miniature yet delicious and satisfying – are priced at $4.15, and include a selection of the most popular city favorites, sure to please.

Bacon Wrapped Little Dogs with beer mustard are fried and crisped to perfection, and served on toothpicks.

Braised Beef Slider with truffle aioli is a little flavorful gem – an upscale mini burger made with tender beef cheeks and beef stock.    

Sweet Shrimp Taco with pickled jalapeno and avocado salsa verde is served with a wedge of lime and topped with marinated red onion and cilantro.   

Corn Meal Battered Onion Rings make a great pairing with blue cheese sauce.

The TAP(415)'s regular menu remains accessible at any working hour, and includes burgers and sandwiches on house baked bread, house-cured meats, juices pressed daily, ice cream made on site, adult milkshakes (such as the Mojitos Anonymous and 415 Slide), and beer and wine on tap (20 taps).

TAP(415) is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The Westfield San Francisco Centre is located at 845 Market Street, San Francisco, California. Call for more information (415) 266.7900 or visit:  www.tap415.com.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

I Love Schroeder's in May

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

 
There are several reasons for that. Founded in 1893 by Henry Schroeder, the largest and oldest German restaurant in San Francisco and on the West Coast, remains a major draw for the Financial District’s savvy crowd thanks to the latest updates implemented by the new owners Jan Wiginton and Andy Chun, and Chef Manfred Wrembel’s talent and creativity.  

Spring is in the air, and on the menu at Schroeder's, too! Seasonal grilled asparagus in its prime is tender and juicy, garnished with festive watermelon and red radishes, sunflower seeds and preserved lemon, with cured Wagyu fat shaved on top.

Crispy sweetbreads – another new arrival – are served with whole roasted young potatoes, and silvery slices of anchovy in smoked aioli sauce with succulent purslane greens.

Charred artichokes – yet another seasonal wonder – are accompanied by baby favas in pods, delicate crisped polenta cake, and a rare treat of ramp (wild onion) puree only available for a few weeks in May.
It’s hard to imagine how these unorthodox combinations come to Chef Manfred’s brilliant mind, but the result is always as pleasing to the palate as it is to the eyes.

All-time favorites never disappoint, either. Fried to golden-brown potato pancakes are nicely counterbalanced with a side salad of Granny Smith apple slices, dandelion greens, whole almonds, and blue cheese in crème fraiche sauce.  

 Vesperplatte – a selection of house cured meats, house-made pickles and grainy mustard – is served on a cutting board with grilled bread, and is plated with artful precision which became a trademark of this casual yet rather sophisticated beer hall.  

Speaking of beer, the Schroeder's selection is predictably rich in all kinds of German, Belgian, and artisanal Californian brews. A hard-to-find Rodenbach Grand Cru sour from Belgium is surely found here, same as Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel from Germany, and other connoisseur labels.

There’s also a comprehensive wine list and a constantly updated selection of cocktails. Across the North Sea is made with Black Bottle blended scotch, herbal liqueur Becherovka, and Bittercube cherry bark vanilla bitters.  
new dessert Zitronen presents Meyer lemon curd with candied kumquats, covered with lemon thyme meringue and topped with arugula flowers.

This year, Maifest, the traditional German celebration of the arrival of spring on May 8 and 9 coincides with Schroeder's 123rd Anniversary. The restaurant will be decadently appointed with colorful handmade paper flowers, strung on the overhead beer hall lights with five separating stylings to represent the different owners throughout the years including the Schroeders, Knishes, Maloufs, Filipchiks and Wiginton/Chun. Historically, this celebration of pride for German heritage included gatherings around the Maipole. In this case, the community will gather through the beer hall for delicious beer, food, music and fun. There will be traditional stein holding contests and dancing. The party kicks off on Friday, May 8 from 3 to 10 p.m. to the tunes of Polkalicious from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. On Saturday, May 9, come to Schroeder’s from 5 to 10 p.m. with Blowmusik! and traditional German dancers from 6 to 9 p.m. No reservations required.

In addition to that, May is National Burger Month, and a great reason to try the tastiest, meltiest, most savory Kraut Burger topped with sharp cheddar, caramelized onions, mustard aioli and plenty of house-cured sauerkraut. The perfectly crisped house-made bun and side of kartoffel tots complete the ultimate comfort food experience.

Served during Schroeder’s popular lunch hour, or as a delicious after-work bar food, the burger pairs nicely with homemade pretzels and mustard, or, to continue the German flare, with the roasted beets or potato pancakes. And, since nothing goes with burgers quite like great beer, Schroeder’s international flights (featuring USA and Germany, and face-offs between the two) will fit that bill. Or, choose from more than 20 select brews on draught to balance the bite of the burger.

In other Schroeder’s news:
Stein Lockers is the latest status symbol of the Financial District. Schroeder’s regulars can reserve a space in the industrially chic lockers that house the traditional beer mugs. For $250 initiation into the exclusive lockers, then $50 per month (which is applied toward one’s food and drink charges for the month) guests can call a portion of the historic German Restaurant “home”…for their steins, at least.
Large Parties any time. Groups of 12-20 can enjoy family style hospitality in Schroeder’s semi-private back dining area – illuminated by the original stained glass lighting fixtures that have been adorning this space for decades – along with the historical wall murals.

Schroeder’s is located at 240 Front St, San Francisco, CA 94111 and is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, and for dinner on Saturdays. Closed Sundays. Call for more information 415-421-4778 or visit www.schroederssf.com.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Raphael House Gala at the Palace Hotel San Francisco

Photo reportage by Yuri Krasov

Since opening its doors in 1971, Raphael House has served nearly 20,000 children and parents from homeless families, providing personalized solutions for building brighter futures. With a spirit of warmth and compassion, Raphael House, a 100% privately funded organization, serves each family uniquely with programs that include residential shelter, career building and job placement, K-12 academic tutoring and mentoring, financial literacy workshops, and social activities aimed at strengthening the family bond. More than 85% of Raphael House families achieve long-term stable housing and financial independence. Raphael House’s 18th annual One Home, Many Hearts Gala, became one of San Francisco’s most anticipated black-tie events of the year. It took place at the iconic Palace Hotel on Saturday, April 18, with Emmy Award Winning MC, Liam Mayclem, and approximately 600 affluent and charitable guests supporting the families Raphael House serves. More information at: www.raphaelhouse.org 



Fast-Casual Yalla Mediterranean Now Open in Walnut Creek

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

Yalla (which means “Let’s go!”) is a name of the recently introduced fast-casual restaurant concept with a focus on fresh, seasonal, and sustainably sourced local ingredients used in wholesome Mediterranean dishes. Opened by Mediterranean Cuisine Operating Company, Yalla is a great place for friends and family, serving healthy and flavorful fast-prepared meals in a casual contemporary setting. 

Ordering food at the counter, diners can create various delectable combinations by choosing their proteins, carbs, and lipids with the help of efficient staff.  

Chicken, steak, kefta and salmon skewers, and spicy chicken shawarma are cooked to order on an open-flame rotisserie grill, and seasoned with a proprietary blend of Mediterranean spices. All meats and fish, falafel and pitas are complemented by sides of hummus, Greek eggplant, tabouli, Moroccan carrot, Turkish slaw, fries, kale and beet salad, peas and mint, and Greek potato salad.

There are plates with rice pilaf, spiced lentils, or grilled vegetables for garnish. There are wraps that can hold all your mains and trimmings. There are pitas with traditional toppings, spreads and sauces (tzatziki, tahini, chermoula, or harissa). There are green salads with Greek vinaigrette or feta ranch dressing, served with three sides. There’s even Shalafel – half chicken shawarma and half falafel – if that strikes your fancy.

Yalla offers vegetarian, dairy free, and gluten free menus; kids menu; family style carry outs, and catering. It also carries a line of soft serve Greek yogurt desserts prepared following the in-house recipe and topped with a choice of chopped baklava and honey syrup; sour cherry syrup, or chocolate “pita” cookie.
House-crafted lemonade, organic iced tea, sodas and bottled water are available alongside select local wines and beer.
Yalla’s simple no-frills food containers, napkins, straws, cups, and utensils are all 100% compostable.

A wall of potted herbs underscores the restaurant’s commitment to freshness. Designed by Aria Group Architects, the welcoming decor incorporates reclaimed wood panels and Edison light fixtures.  Lemons – a staple in Mediterranean cuisine – are featured in the company logo, uniforms, and artwork that adorns the dining room. 

The first location of Yalla opened in Pleasant Hill, California. Now the new Yalla delights Walnut Creek residents. More openings in Dublin and in Southern California locations are in the plans.

Currently, Yalla is found at 55 Crescent Drive in Pleasant Hill, and at 1813 Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek.  For more information visit www.yallamedi.com.